Associated Industries of Missouri President and CEO Ray McCarty testified at a hearing of the Senate Small Business and Industry Committee in favor of a bill sponsored by Senate Majority Floor Leader Mike Kehoe that would reduce the weeks of unemployment benefits available when the unemployment rate is low to as few as 13 weeks when the unemployment rate is 5.9% or lower. Senator Kehoe noted 13 weeks is the average number of weeks of benefits paid during longer periods of unemployment and McCarty confirmed the U.S. Department of Labor stated the average unemployment claimant in Missouri received benefits for 12.1 weeks.
The bill is identical to a bill that was heard in the House several weeks ago and could be up for debate in the House very soon.
The bill also addresses the severance double dip situation that currently allows separated employees with severance packages to collect unemployment benefits even though they may be receiving their full pay for a certain period of time. McCarty testified other states, including New York, did not allow this ridiculous benefit and that the unemployment funds need to be used for those that are unemployed through no fault of their own and only after they are no longer receiving pay.
AIM was joined in support by the NFIB and another business group. The only opponents were the AFL-CIO that said 13 weeks is too low, especially for the construction industry and suggested using localized unemployment rates instead of the state average rate.